I had a previous post about 10 Best Spelling Games, which included lots of fun games that were for students who may have struggled with spelling, but did not require structured, multi-sensory instruction. For students who do require that, apps are still limited (That’s why my list only has 5, not 10 apps, as usual). I use these apps as a supplement to my Orton-Gillingham literacy interventions. Rarely assigned to be done independently, we use the app as a talking point.
Apps that have random spelling lists, allow for things like word scrambling, and do not focus on phonics are not educationally sound. They rely on memorization not skills or pattern-based learning, which is how students with reading and spelling difficulties need to be taught.
Below are the 5 Best Spelling Apps currently on the market for students with dyslexia or spelling/encoding difficulties:
- Sound Literacy ($24.99) I have to admit, I initially found Sound Literacy to be not very user-friendly. The more I’ve used it, though, the more I think it’s worth every penny. It allows for multiple student users, each with their own alphabet set, or letters and syllables that they already know (not the full alphabet that most apps provide, even when students have not learned all sounds). It also has different colors for vowels as well as inflectional suffixes (-ed, -ing). Focus on patterns and processes (e.g. drop the e rule). Youtube videos were a great help when I was figuring out just how to use this tool most effectively. Lots of customization options available, including having Elkonin boxes, if your student has been using those.
- Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 ($4.99) & Simplex Spelling Phonics -Advanced Phonograms (4.99) (Also have a Lite Version, Free): All of these apps are incredibly helpful. Once again, color coded differentiation between vowels and consonants, plus Elkonin-like boxes for various sounds. The app lines up various potential sounds for each box, then has the student select the appropriate sound, activating phonetic knowledge, but also working on MGR. The Apps also allow for multiple student users, and it tracks their progress, plus can print Progress Reports.
- Word Connex (4.99): The sorting activities in it remind me of Words Their Way (which I love). Lots of focus on vowels, so best for elementary. Also has some vocabulary extensions that may be useful for some students.
- Alpha Writer ($4.99): for younger (elementary) students. What I like is that vowels (including vowel digraphs and r-controlled vowels) are represented with a different color than consonants. What I don’t like is that the sounds are read with an extra schwa or karat (e.g. B is read as “buh” instead of “b”). I’ve used it with the sound off and with my own vocal supports, or having the child practice segmenting and blending. Also, students have to scroll through the alphabet to find their letters (vs. something like Sound Literacy, where you can select the letters they already know).
- Word Magic ($0.99): Also for younger (elementary) students. No color coded differentiation for vowels and consonants, but there are various settings which allow the app to be pretty customizable (syllable amount, vowel types). A motivating app.